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2003 ICMI Award Winners

The Felix Klein Medal: Guy Brousseau

Citation for the 2003 ICMI Felix Klein Medal to Guy Brousseau

2003-Brousseau.jpgThe first Felix Klein Medal of the Internal Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) is awarded to Professor Guy Brousseau. This distinction recognises the essential contribution Guy Brousseau has given to the development of mathematics education as a scientific field of research, through his theoretical and experimental work over four decades, and to the sustained effort he has made throughout his professional life to apply the fruits of his research to the mathematics education of both students and teachers.

Born in 1933, Guy Brousseau began his career as an elementary teacher in 1953. In the late sixties, after graduating in mathematics, he entered the University of Bordeaux. In 1986 he earned a 'doctorat détat,' and in 1991 became a full professor at the newly created University Institute for Teacher Education (IUFM) in Bordeaux, where he worked until 1998. He is now Professor Emeritus at the IUFM of Aquitaine. He is also Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Montréal.

From the early seventies, Guy Brousseau emerged as one of the leading and most original researchers in the new field of mathematics education, convinced on the one hand that this field must be developed as a genuine field of research, with both fundamental and applied dimensions, and on the other hand that it must remain close to the discipline of mathematics. His notable theoretical achievement was the elaboration of the theory of didactic situations, a theory he initiated in the early seventies, and which he has continued to develop with unfailing energy and creativity. At a time when the dominant vision was cognitive, strongly influenced by the Piagetian epistemology, he stressed that what the field needed for its development was not a purely cognitive theory but one allowing us also to understand the social interactions between students, teachers and knowledge that take place in the classroom and condition what is learned by students and how it can be learned. This is the aim of the theory of didactic situations, which has progressively matured, becoming the impressive and complex theory that it is today. To be sure, this was a collective work, but each time there were substantial advances, the critical source was Guy Brousseau.

This theory, visionary in its integration of epistemological, cognitive and social dimensions, has been a constant source of inspiration for many researchers throughout the world. Its main constructs, such as the concepts of adidactic and didactic situations, of didactic contract, of devolution and institutionalization have been made widely accessible through the translation of Guy Brousseau's principal texts into many different languages and, more recently, the publication by Kluwer in 1997 of the book, 'Theory of didactical situations in mathematics - 1970-1990'.

Although the research Guy Brousseau has inspired currently embraces the entire range of mathematics education from elementary to post-secondary, his major contributions deal with the elementary level, where they cover all mathematical domains from numbers and geometry to probability. Their production owes much to a specific structure - the COREM (Center for Observation and Research in Mathematics Education) - that he created in 1972 and directed until 1997. COREM provided an original organisation of the relationships between theoretical and experimental work.

Guy Brousseau is not only an exceptional and inspired researcher in the field, he is also a scholar who has dedicated his life to mathematics education, tirelessly supporting the development of the field, not only in France but in many countries, supporting new doctoral programs, helping and supervising young international researchers (he supervised more than 50 doctoral theses), contributing in a vital way to the development of mathematical and didactic knowledge of students and teachers. He has been until the nineties intensely involved in the activities of the CIEAEM (Commission Internationale pour l'Etude et l'Amélioration de l'Enseignement des Mathématiques) and he was its secretary from 1981 to 1984. At a national level, he was deeply involved in the experience of the IREMs (Research Institutes in Mathematics Education), from their foundation in the late sixties. He had a decisive influence on the activities and resources these institutes have developed for promoting high quality mathematics training of elementary teachers for more than 30 years.

The Hans Freudenthal Medal: Celia Hoyles

Citation for the 2003 ICMI Freudenthal Medal to Celia Hoyles

2003-Hoyles.jpgThe first Hans Freudenthal Medal of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI) is awarded to Professor Celia Hoyles. This distinction recognises the outstanding contribution that Celia Hoyles has made to research in the domain of technology and mathematics education, both in terms of theoretical advances and through the development and piloting of national and international projects in this field, aimed at improving through technology the mathematics education of the general population, from young children to adults in the workplace.

Celia Hoyles studied mathematics at the University of Manchester, winning the Dalton prize for the best first-class degree in Mathematics. She began her career as a secondary teacher, and then became a lecturer at the Polytechnic of North London. She entered the field of mathematics education research, earning a Masters and Doctorate, and became Professor of Mathematics Education at the Institute of Education, University of London in 1984.

Her early research in the area of technology and mathematics education, like that of many researchers, began by exploring the potential offered by Logo, and she soon became an international leader in this area. Two books published in 1986 and 1992 (edited) attested to the productivity of her research with Logo. This was followed, in 1996, by the publication of Windows on Mathematical Meanings: Learning Cultures and Computers, co-authored with Richard Noss, which inspired major theoretical advances in the field, such as the notions of webbing and situated abstraction, ideas that are well known to researchers irrespective of the specific technologies they are studying.

From the mid nineties, her research on technology integrated the new possibilities offered by information and communication technologies as well as the new relationships children develop with technology. She has recently co-directed successively two projects funded by the European Union: the Playground project in which children from different countries designed, built and shared their own video games, and the current WebLabs project, which aims at designing and evaluating virtual laboratories where children in different countries build and explore mathematical and scientific ideas collaboratively at a distance. As an international leader in the area of technology and mathematics education, she was recently appointed by the ICMI Executive Committee as co-chair of a new ICMI Study on this theme.

However, Celia Hoyles' contribution to research in mathematics education is considerably broader than this focus on technology. Since the mid nineties, she has been involved in two further major areas of research. The first, a series of studies on children's understanding of proof, has pioneered some novel methodological strategies linking quantitative and qualitative approaches that include longitudinal analyses of development. The second area has involved researching the mathematics used at work and she now co-directs a new project, Techno-Mathematical Literacies in the Workplace, which aims to develop this research by implementing and evaluating some theoretically-designed workplace training using a range of new media.

In recent years Celia Hoyles has become increasingly involved in working alongside mathematicians and teachers in policy-making. She was elected Chair of the Joint Mathematical Council of the U.K. in October 1999 and she is a member of the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education (ACME) that speaks for the whole of the mathematics community to the Government on policy matters related to mathematics, from primary to higher education. In 2002, she played a major role in ACME's first report to the Government on the Continuing Professional Development of Teachers of Mathematics, and contributed to the comprehensive review of 14-19 mathematics in the UK. In recognition of her contributions, Celia has recently been awarded the Order of the British Empire for "Services to Mathematics Education".

Celia Hoyles belongs to that special breed of mathematics educators who, even while engaging with theoretical questions, do not lose sight of practice; and reciprocally, while engaged in advancing practice, do not forget the lessons they have learned from theory and from empirical research. Celia Hoyles' commitment to the improvement of mathematics education, in her country and beyond, can be felt in every detail of her multi-faceted, diverse professional activity. Her enthusiasm and vision are universally admired by those who have been in direct contact with her. It is thanks to people like Celia Hoyles, with a clear sense of mission and the ability to build bridges between research and practice while contributing to both, that the community of mathematics education has acquired, over the years, a better-defined identity.